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Which Canadian Universities have Low Acceptance Rates?

Posted 17 February 2023 Canadian University Guide

As Canada is a preferred country among international students to pursue higher education, it has always been chosen by prospective students who wish to lead a better life. The benefits of studying in Canada, such as immigration policies, attractive post-study work visas, high quality of life and education, and comparatively affordable programs, make it even more appealing.

What does a low acceptance rate mean?

A low acceptance rate at a university means that the percentage of applicants offered admission to the university is relatively small. For example, if a university has an acceptance rate of 5%, only 5 out of every 100 applicants are admitted.

Generally, a lower acceptance rate indicates that the university is highly selective and that the admissions standards and requirements are rigorous. Canadian universities with low acceptance rates often receive many applications, so the competition for admission is high. In some cases, a low acceptance rate may also indicate that the university has limited resources and capacity to accommodate many students.

Low acceptance rate universities in Canada

Top-ranking universities in Canada are great not just for domestic students but also for international students. Some of these institutions have competitive admission criteria and requirements, and these aspects make it challenging for students to be admitted. The low acceptance rates are due to the high GPA required and other strict admission procedures, including a robust application with letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and work experience. There may also be a requirement for SAT or ACT scores.

We have compiled a list of Canadian universities with low acceptance rates below, which also means that these are among the best ranked in the country. Book a free consultation with SI-Global today if you want admission to any universities and need help with application procedures.

canada universities low acceptance rates

Canada Universities with Low Acceptance Rates

Canadian universities maintain low acceptance rates, making entry highly competitive. As demand surges for quality education, these institutions attract many applicants, intensifying the selection process. Institutions such as the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia consistently attract high-calibre applicants, contributing to their selective admission processes.

10 Universities in Canada with Low Acceptance Rates

1. York University (27%)

York University is Canada’s fourth-largest university, with over 54,000 students enrolled in 200+ undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The public research university in Toronto is well-known for being a driving force of positive change.

The high quality of education and variety of programs make students choose the university, but due to its competitive admission criteria, it remains an institution with low acceptance rates. The employer satisfaction rate (based on the survey of GTA employers who hired graduates from York) of the university graduates is around 90%. Even if the acceptance rate is low, the university has a welcoming and diverse community with over 10,000 international students from 172 countries.

2. Western University (30%)

Founded in 1878, Western University is ranked among the top 1% of educational institutions globally. It is in London, Ontario, known as the University of Western Ontario.

Over 43,000 students are enrolled in the university, with 4,759 international students from 129 countries. Western University has 12 faculties for professional Business, Law, Medicine, and Engineering programs. It offers over 400 combinations of undergraduate majors and minor specializations and has 88 graduate degree programs. Having a 92.5% employment rate after six months of graduation, the university is preferred by many students. Still, the low acceptance rate means that only exceptional students can get admission to the university.

3. University of Toronto (40%)

The top-ranking university of Canada in most of the World University Rankings, such as the Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings, the U of T is highly competitive and selective. It has a low acceptance rate as the admission procedure is more challenging than most other universities.

However, if we compare it with the top US universities, it is still easier to get into. The largest and among the oldest educational institutions in the country, it houses over 84,000 students and offers undergraduate and graduate programs available in various disciplines.

4. McGill University (42%)

McGill University is among the most prestigious universities in Canada, which was founded in 1821. The university offers various degrees and other diplomas in more than 300 fields. The reputation of the university makes it difficult for students to crack admission as it also has the highest average entering grades from other universities in Canada. McGill is also the most internationally diverse university in the medical research field and has 30% international students. Most students enrol in the significant Arts, Medicine, Science, Engineering, Education, and Management faculties. 

5. Queen’s University (45%)

Queen’s University at Kingston, commonly known as simply Queen’s or Queen’s University, is located in Kingston, Ontario. One of Canada's most reputed research universities, it comprises eight faculties and schools.

The university was founded in 1841 with a royal charter from Queen Victoria and was established by the Church of Scotland as Queen’s College. It also became the first Canadian university, located west of the maritime provinces, in 1869 to admit women to an educational institution.

6. University of Alberta (51%)

The University of Alberta, situated in Edmonton, stands out as a leading research-centric institution in Canada. With four campuses and a student body exceeding 30,000, it attracts international students from over 100 countries, overcoming the region's challenging weather. The university places a key emphasis on development and agriculture, significantly contributing to the local area and the nation. 

Through various innovations, the University of Alberta has played a pivotal role in advancing these fields, making it a hub for those seeking education and research opportunities in these impactful domains.

7. University of Waterloo (52%)

The University of Waterloo, situated in Waterloo, Ontario, stands out with its diverse academic offerings across six faculties. Notably, this Canadian institution boasts low acceptance rates, making it a sought-after destination for students seeking quality education. A distinctive feature of the university lies in its extensive range of research programs, appealing to both domestic and international students.

The University of Waterloo provides a unique opportunity for students to delve into practical research, fostering innovation and practical learning experiences. Its emphasis on research enriches academic pursuits and equips students with valuable skills for the real world. As a result, the university's commitment to combining theoretical knowledge with practical applications contributes to its appeal among those aspiring to embark on a journey of academic and innovative excellence.

8. University of British Columbia (53%)

The University of British Columbia (UBC) stands as one of Canada's leading institutions, boasting a stellar reputation and counting three Prime Ministers, including the current one, Justin Trudeau, among its alumni. Recognized for its commitment to research and innovation, UBC offers ambitious graduate programs with a strong focus on diverse projects.

One of the university's standout areas is nuclear and quantum physics, where advanced studies occur. UBC's dedication to advancing knowledge is evident in its establishment of the first Max Planck Institute on the continent, showcasing a commitment to excellence in research and pushing the boundaries of scientific exploration. As students engage with these pioneering programs, they become part of a legacy of academic achievement and contribute to the university's continued impact on the forefront of research and innovation.

9. University of Ottawa (54%)

The University of Ottawa is the most significant global higher education hub teaching English and French. Its program's exceptional quality draws students worldwide. Renowned for fields like law, medicine, social sciences, and management, the university's diverse offerings cater to varied academic interests. Boasting a student body of over 40,000 individuals, international students contribute significantly, comprising more than 15% of the population. Its unique linguistic and cultural blend creates a vibrant educational environment, fostering a global community. 

The University of Ottawa's commitment to excellence, linguistic diversity, and extensive program options make it an appealing choice for those seeking a prosperous and inclusive academic experience in the heart of Canada.

10. University of Montreal (57%)

The University of Montreal, situated in Montreal, Quebec, provides over 600 programs, all taught exclusively in French. The university's commitment to research and public engagement is notable, creating an environment encouraging students to explore and contribute to groundbreaking discoveries. While the language of instruction may pose a challenge for non-French speakers, it adds a unique cultural dimension to the educational experience. 

Montreal offers a rich academic landscape, blending many programs with a strong focus on research and innovation. It is an attractive destination for those seeking a dynamic and intellectually stimulating educational journey.

Study in Canada

If you wish to study at these Canadian Universities and need guidance in the application process, arrange a free consultation call to discuss the options.

Universities featured in this article:

  • University of Calgary
  • Western University
  • University of Toronto
  • McGill University
  • Queen's University
  • University of Montreal
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Waterloo
  • University of Alberta
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